The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling for the FBI to investigate the death of a Muslim teenager who was discovered hanging from a tree.
The incident, which the medical examiner initially ruled a suicide, involves 18-year-old Ben Keita, whose body was discovered in a wooded area of Lake Stevens in January. He'd vanished in November.
"Ben was a happy young man," father Ibrahima Keita told Q13 Fox. He said his son had no history of depression or anxiety.
However, the medical examiner later changed the cause of death to undetermined. Two reasons were cited, according to KIRO. The rope used to hang the teen was tied 50 feet high in the tree, and a search of the area just weeks earlier had not turned up anything.
According to Washington CAIR, Keita was found hanging in an area that was searched at least twice by police before his body was finally discovered.
The incident comes in the midst of what civil rights advocates and religious communities are calling a wave of anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic hate crimes. Dozens of Jewish Community Centers have been hit with bomb threats over the last two months; scores of headstones were overturned at Jewish cemetaries in St. Louis and Philadelphia; a member of Pittsburgh's Somali Bantu community is in critical condition after being severely beaten Tuesday;
Lake Stevens police told Q13 News its investigation into Keita’s death remains open pending lab results.
"We just want to make sure that the expertise, the experience and the human resources of the FBI are brought to make sure everything is comprehensively investigated, no stone is left unturned," Washington CAIR executive director Arsalan Bukhari told KIRO.
"We are aware of circumstances of the individual’s death and will review them with consideration of federal law," the statement read, as reported by the NY Daily News. "If warranted, we may conduct further investigation. A review does not necessarily result in the opening of an investigation."